One of the most practically useful classes I took in grad school was an herbal elective on how to make my own herbal medicines. Each week we used a different method for preparing herbs, from medicinal herbal infusions and decoctions (often simply called herbal tea), herbal honeys, infused vinegars, salves, tinctures, and even herbal baths. As a runner, the best information on the benefits and how-to’s of water therapy for exercise recovery was actually gained in my herbal medicine making course!
Beyond being able to make my own tinctures for potent low-dose, completely natural medicines to help with everything from boosting the immune system, relieving nervous tension, and putting my spinning 2am brain promptly back to sleep, this recipe for fire cider is by far my most repeated recipe that came out of that course.
Fire Cider is a kitchen-hearth recipe originally created by herbal elder Rosemary Gladstar. If you’ve never heard of Rosemary, she is a founder of the Traditional Medicinals tea brand you’ve more than likely seen on shelves in the supermarket tea aisle, among her many other accomplishments.
The idea with fire cider is that the ingredients are easy to access, likely already on hand, and make for a warming, stimulating and potent combination that gets your blood moving, with the heat from the ingredients pushing pathogens and heat to the surface of the body during times of illness. The real key to the formula is movement, using herbs to stimulate and circulate movement through the immune system, lymphatic system, cardiovascular system, and digestive system.
Fire cider is great to take as a tonic all season long, or in larger amounts if you’ve contracted a virus. One to two teaspoons daily mixed in with a little water is usually a good way to take it.
My recipe for Golden Fire Cider varies slightly from Rosemary’s. For one, I add turmeric since it is incredibly anti-inflammatory and pungent, and thus supportive in times of illness. I also don’t add honey to my formula. The honey was originally included to make the stimulating herbs more palatable so can be added if one desires. Lastly, the fresh horseradish root can sometimes be difficult to source. I’ve got a jar of wasabi powder in the back of my pantry that has served as great substitute in those instances. Ideally, the ingredients are infused in the vinegar for at least a month, so if you’d like some to carry you through cold and flu season, start a batch now!
Golden Fire Cider, makes 2-3 cups ¼ cup grated horseradish root 1/2 cup chopped onions 2 Tbs. minced garlic 2 Tbs. fresh minced ginger root 1 small hot pepper such as jalapeño or serrano, minced 1 tsp. dried turmeric root or 1 Tbs. fresh root, minced a couple pinches black pepper raw apple cider vinegar raw local honey, to taste
Add all chopped ingredients to a quart jar.
Add apple cider vinegar to three inches above herbs. Cap the jar and shake. Infuse for about 28 days before straining, and shake/mix daily or as often as you remember.
If you’re online at all these days, you’ll notice October ended and we’re straight on to the holiday season. For many, this is a time of year that is especially difficult whether it be because of the dark and cold days, the pressure of the season, or the extra challenges of navigating all the holiday gatherings.
Historically, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays – until my food intolerances got in the way and it became much more difficult to enjoy the meal without anxiety, asking lots of questions, educating the host, and planning to bring more of my own foods so as to be able to enjoy it. I grew up in the kitchen and whether it’s in my own house or that of anyone else, I feel most comfortable in any gathering when in the kitchen with my hands in the food. So it’s a given that I absolutely love the idea of Thanksgiving, which is essentially a celebration of food.
For the past few years, I’ve gotten better at navigating this big holiday feast and partly because I’ve been better prepared, more comfortable as I’ve aged into this lifestyle of navigating food intolerances, and because I’ve been better at informing and educating the person(s) I share space with.
In light of that, I’m sharing a couple of my favorite recipes for the season, first, a platter of simple and delicious roasted vegetables that pleases just about everyone, and second a Moroccan-inspired seasonal millet, quinoa, and persimmon creation that fits most food intolerances and special diets.
If you have food restrictions that makes joining others for big meals a challenge, are hosting persons with food restrictions, or are just looking for some delicious seasonal whole food dishes for your holiday feasting, look no further. Though our Thanksgivings are always spent traveling to large family gatherings and only have marginal representation from the recipes below, this is the Thanksgiving meal that is my ideal — with a couple special additions per my loved one’s request and some savory recipes that have been big hits in the past. 😊
Notes about the Menu: – If you eat turkey and are highly sensitive to gluten, you may need to make sure your turkey has been processed without any gluten-additives. My first recommendation is always to purchase a turkey from a local farmer, if available, but I know that can be asking a lot, especially if you’re not hosting the meal. Otherwise, here is an excellent list of available brands that don’t process with gluten. – For dairy-free / vegan mashed potatoes, we tend to skip the russet varieties and opt for German Butterball, red potatoes, or Yukon Gold varieties. They have more flavor and moisture, and work well by mashing without butter, and just a bit of non-dairy milk, seasoning, and a splash of olive oil, if desired. – Most traditional stuffing recipes can be adapted to be gluten-free by using gluten-free bread or cornbread. Use vegetable broth and olive oil or a vegan butter to eliminate animal products.
Roasted Vegetables with Autumn Roots + Mushrooms – I find roasted vegetables to be pleasing to just about everyone, including picky young eaters and those that ‘don’t like vegetables.’ Just about any vegetable tastes great when roasted correctly, which means that it is deeply golden brown, a little crispy and caramelized around the edges, and soft all the way through. – I add a bit of herbs and spices to round out the flavors and help support adequate digestion, a needed component with these heavy-feasting meals. Use equal parts of all vegetables or what you have, in an amount to fill your roasting pan or to feed your number of guests.
Small red, striped or golden beets Parsnips Carrots Red or yellow onions Mushrooms, any type you prefer a tablespoon or so of coconut oil per baking sheet to provide moisture and flavor dry thyme seasoning Balancing Spice blend (see below) salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub clean and dice the vegetables and mushrooms until they are medium in size and roughly uniform. Combine them on a large roasting pan and mix in about 1 tablespoon each dried thyme leaves and the Balancing Spice Blend, along with salt and pepper to taste, and just enough coconut oil to provide moisture and flavor (about 1 tablespoon for a large pan).
Roast in the oven for about 40-60 minutes, until all vegetables are completely soft all the way through. Since the mushrooms will take less time than the rest, you can add them in about half-way through if you’d like them less well-cooked.
Balancing Digestive SpiceBlend(makes about 1/4 cup) 1 Tbs. coriander seeds 1 Tbs. cumin seeds 1 tsp. fennel seeds 2 tsp. ground ginger 1 Tbs. ground turmeric a dash of black pepper
Toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir constantly for approximately 3-5 minutes, until you can just smell them.
Cool and then grind the seeds together with the rest of the spices until it reaches a uniform powder.
Persimmon + Grains with Moroccan Seasoning, serves 4-6 as a side-dish – Ras El Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend, somewhat similar to a garam masala. The name actually means “Top of the Shop” and each spice house will usually have their own blend which features their best spices. I made my own (see below), but there are several good ones available to purchase, or improvise with the Balancing Digestive Spice Blend above, or curry powder, knowing it won’t provide quite the same flavor profile. – Use any gluten-free whole grain such as quinoa, millet, rice, wild rice, buckwheat, etc. I love the combination of millet and quinoa here, but choosing just one also works well.
1/2 cup each of millet and quinoa 1 small onion or 2 shallots, thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp. Ras El Hanout 2 Tbs. tahini 1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice 1 clove garlic, smashed and minced 2-4 Tbs. water, as needed salt and pepper, to taste a large handful of cilantro, finely minced 1 large persimmon, sliced thin into half-moons a handful of toasted and chopped hazelnuts or sunflower seeds, as desired for flavor / texture
If you have the time, cover the grains with a few inches of water in a pot and soak for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse. If you don’t have time for this step, it’s okay!
In a pot, heat a splash of olive oil on medium and soften the onion and garlic until tender. Add 1 teaspoon of the ras el hanout and sauté until fragrant. Add the grains and stir well to let the flavors infuse for a few minutes. Stir in a big pinch of salt and 2 cups of water, cover, and simmer on low heat until the grains are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, remaining clove of garlic and season to taste. Thin as necessary with water.
Tip the cooked grains into a serving bowl and then toss with the cilantro, tahini dressing, and sliced persimmon. Add the nuts or seeds as desired, stir, and taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Ras el Hanout seasoning Blend this up by weight or by teaspoons.
4 parts cumin 4 parts ginger 4 parts turmeric 3 parts black pepper 2 parts coriander 2 parts cinnamon 2 parts cayenne 1 part cloves 1 part allspice 1 part cardamom 1 part rose petal powder
I’ve been making apple pie as long as I can remember, a fall / holiday season staple since at least my early teens.
Still, it’s taken all these years of tinkering with filling and pastries to get the combination just right.
I’m not a pie person, per se. I’d take a really dense and elaborate layer cake, a quick bread / loaf cake, or even a muffin over pie most days. But I do like pie and if you’d ask, I’d take apple pie every single time.
We’re at the point in our outdoors / landscaping overhaul that our apple trees are producing this year. So the timing of getting this pie right is pretty special since a good portion of the apples came from one of the trees, a Goldrush variety.
And the pastry, though this version is latticed and rustic, is dreamy to work with, particularly when it comes to being gluten-free. If there’s a downside to it, I’d say it rolls out too well, meaning I can get overly enthusiastic and roll it too thin, knowing I can pick it up and transfer it easily with no breaking or falling apart.
And, after several years of tweaking and testing it out on all sorts of folks that don’t have to avoid gluten or dairy (or any other foods), I can say it meets with approval, and often is favored over the other pastries during the holidays because the flour blend makes for a little more nuanced flavor profile that plain white wheat flour will never have.
Enjoy this one. Fill it with the best and most local apples of the season, or whatever filling you most prefer.
Apple Pie, makes a 9″ pie with double crust – The key to a good apple pie is to use a mixture of at least two different apple varieties, one slightly softer, and one that’s more crisp. I used Goldrush and an unnamed “pie apple” from a local farm and it was delicious. – For the pastry recipe, I’ve listed the preferred flours first, and another option second, depending on availability. It’s important to use a mixture of flours to get the right flavor and texture and many trial versions has lead me to this particular combination and ratio. – For a non-dairy butter, I like Miyoko’s European Style Vegan Butter most. It has the right texture, flavor, and is simple on the ingredient list. If you can tolerate dairy, a nice quality unsalted butter is also a preferred option.
3 pounds assorted apples (about 6-8 cups sliced), peeled and sliced 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 2 Tbs. coconut sugar 2 Tbs. maple syrup 2 tsp. arrowroot starch 3 Tbs. sorghum flour ½ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. cardamom 1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12″ circle, dusting the dough lightly with flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking. Ease the dough into a 9″ pie pan, fit it into the corners, and trim it to a 1″ overhang.
In a large bowl, toss together apples, lemon juice, sugar, maple syrup, spices, and flour.
Turn the apple mixture into the pie pan.
Roll out the top crust and add atop, making a lattice crust if desired. Fold the overhang of the crust under, and flute the crust by pressing it between the thumb of one hand and the index finger and thumb of the other hand. Freeze it for 20 minutes, then remove and put in the preheated oven to bake.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, until the crust begins to turn a golden brown. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until browned on top and the juices are bubbling in the center, about 60 to 70 minutes.
Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
Gluten + Dairy-Free Pie Pastry, makes a double crust pastry
160 grams / 1 cup brown rice or teff flour 70 grams / ½ cup sorghum flour 70 grams / ½ cup buckwheat or millet flour 60 grams / ½ cup arrowroot starch 30 grams / 3 Tbs. tapioca starch 30 grams / 5 Tbs. finely ground chia seed 1 1/2 Tbs. coconut sugar 1 tsp. sea salt 230 grams/ 16 Tbs. cold, unsalted vegan butter, sliced ¼” thick 12-16 Tbs. ice water 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
In a large bowl, combine the flours, ground chia seed, sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter pieces on the top, and work in with your fingers until the mixture resembles gravel, with lots of butter chunks the size of large peas.
Stir together 12 tablespoons of the ice water with the apple cider vinegar, and drizzle the mixture into the flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough with a rubber spatula to moisten evenly. Add just enough water for the dough to hold together when you give it a squeeze, and add it directly to the dry floury bits that like to hang out on the bottom of the bowl; you may need 12 tablespoons or more of water.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rough square that is about ¼” thick. Fold it in thirds like you’re folding a letter, then roll up from a skinny end into a loose spiral. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out. This folding, rolling and chilling technique will yield a flaky, delicious pastry.